Edwin Cotterill - Wolverhampton

- Manufacturer of locks and corkscrews

Edwin Cotterill is one of Englands most famous corkscrew manufacturers. He was born in Wolverhampton about 1815. A more precise date seems difficult to establish. He went for Birmingham before 1840 and became a major Corkscrew and Lock maker. His father was first listed in 1827 as John Cotterill and was, as many at the time, a Corkscrew & Steel Toy Maker. Thus, Edwin had an early tradition in the corkscrew manufacturing business.


Edwin was married to Mary but the couple seem not to have had children. However, the household consisted according to the census of at least five persons. His business was registred on quite many addresses as well as it seems that his family also moved around.


The famous company was established in 1840. The company manufactured a variety of items such as of corkscrews, cupboard locks, safes, door springs and locks.


The Cotterill factory produced mechanical corkscrews such as Thomason's and King Screws. Edwin Cotterill also produced a fantastic corkscrew with a hidden thread on a shaft. This is the famous 1842 patented corkscrew.


The corkscrew has a brass barrel with a large Royal Coat of Arms badge. Inside the long brass neck, the steel shank has crossover threads. Turning the handle clock and anticlockwise produces both upwards and downwards movements due to a clutch mechanism. The end button has two small pointed studs that engage the cork. An extra benefit is an advanced cork ejector. The cork can be unscrewed by continuously turning the handle counter clockwise. The clutch mechanism must have been very advanced when it was launched 1842.


There are two types of barrels known, one has a more copper mixture and thus have a darker patina and not so fragile. This model was produced as a second generation a few years later after 1842. The one below is one of the earlier ones made.


Edwin Cotterill must have been quite an inventor. Logically he decided to widening his business. In 1846 Cotterill obtained a patent for improvements in articles applied to windows, doors and shutters. This was a wide ranging patent and covered several areas. This patent started the era of producing locks and other safety products.


Edwin Cotterill's main business came to be locks and safety equipment. Edwin Cotterill's padlocks are amongst the most appreciated by collectors and are extremely rare. At the end of the day Edwin Cotterill is recognized as an excellent locksmith and lock manufacturer rather than as a corkscrew manufacturer.


The Cotterill company became a quite large manufacturer as it seems. The company was almost certainly engaged in the war industry during world war one and diversified thereafter into pressings for the motor industry. The corkscrew era was all gone and probably the manufacturing of locks as well.


The company became severely hurt by the great depression. No records of the company can be found after 1930. The great depression must have been an abrupt end to the company of one of the most prominent corkscrew manufacturers of England. However, this is years after Edwin Cotterills death.



A traditional Thomason by Cotterill.

The famous 1842 patented corkscrew.

An advert for manufactured corkscrews - Edwin Cotterill at Costa Green, Birmingham.


The last record of the person Edwin Cotterill was in the 1861 English census. Edwin Cotterill dies young at the age of 53 in march 1868. He dies where he was born in Wolverhampton. His wife must have deceased before him since a brother was sole executor. The remains were less than 200 £. A small amount for such a prominent man. When he dies he is recorded as a lock manufacturer.


Cotterill corkscrews and locks are still very much present and are collector items around the world. The clutch mechanisms used in locks and corkscrews were so very much ahead of time. Clearly, Edwin Cotterill was an advanced and significant entrepreneur during the industrial era.



Sources: Census and historical information distributed by ancestry.co.uk                                                  Locks and Keys, 1997